My ‘Himalayan’ Struggle With Pottery

The base with hard fire bricks.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m addicted to pottery but it seems like I can barely get down to clay work.

I take a course. Then life happens. it takes me fifteen years to get back to it. Then we move as a family from a city and set up home at 6500 ft, in a wild place without clay. I end up digging up the hillsides  feeling as desperate as one of those clay-licking  parrots looking for the right fix of trace minerals. Of course I have no finances for a kiln so I wait for a friend who does own one to turn up. Except, she is an annual visitor to the hillside. Thanks to her, I recharge my batteries with every firing, however rare. I do this for a couple of years and then we move again. This time we gain an additional altitude of 500 ft . So I’m here, in a place where it pours for 4 months straight and is too cold to touch clay for another four. This move isn’t permanent (nothing is !). Even so, I’m a little older and as determined .The views are fabulous and inspiring as usual. I get a brain wave and foolishly decide it can’t be that hard to make a ‘dismantle-able’ gas kiln of my own. One I can ship back home when I leave…if I ever do.

I read up.I consult  a professional potter-friend, check out the web and we draw up a simple plan which I modify. Easy. I get a welder to fabricate the sides, order the fibre (which make me itch like crazy) and the kiln furniture, wait for the rare sunny day in November ‘012 & get down on my knees. The photo essay tells you the rest. Follow my journey down this murky path if it sounds familiar. Help me stay on the trail.

The base with hard fire bricks.
The base with hard fire bricks.
Metal frame on base
Metal frame on base
Building up with soft bricks (because I had some) and mesh grills  on side
Building up with soft bricks (because I had some) and mesh grills  on side
Adding solid metal side outside the grill and lining with fibre.
Adding solid metal side outside the grill and lining with fibre.
The lid with opening for chimney
The lid with opening for chimney
Almost there
Almost there
The kiln without the lid
The kiln without the lid

The first firing. Nov 013.  It was a disaster. I didn’t use a chimney..the kiln didn’t get hotter than 400C . It was cold outside. There was no roar when I fired! And the inside of the kiln got all blackened with soot. I’ve had a chimney fabricated since. Yet to try it out. I plan to layer the inside bottom of the kiln with fibre, pack the kiln and  cross my fingers. Wish me luck!

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